NBA Finals Used AirDrop to Connect with Fans

Quick questions: Do you like unexpected ads and announcements on your phone? Does it entertain you, or annoy you?

These were the key questions undertaken in a creative advertising campaign from ESPN and agency R/GA during the NBA finals. The campaign objective was to drive up viewership of the NBA finals. The tool used was Apple’s AirDrop. In case you have forgotten (or not used) AirDrop, the feature enables two users, who are within 30 feet of each other, to transfer files directly between iPhones and other devices.

For the NBA campaign, personalized messages were sent to people who were NOT at the NBA game, but were instead doing other things like sitting on a bench, hanging out with friends, and more non-basketball activities. The stunt was limited in scope, done at only five locations in downtown New York where marketers sent out personalized messages. And, to make sure they didn’t miss a basket, message recipients also got access to the game on live streaming.

Make sure to check your AirDrop settings! Who knows what might show up next.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about using AirDrop to deliver unexpected advertisings?
  2. Does use of AirDrop violate privacy?
  3. Show the case study video: https://www.adweek.com/creativity/espn-freaked-out-iphone-users-by-trolling-them-with-airdrop-during-the-nba-finals/?utm_content=position_2&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=AW_Adfreak&utm_campaign=Adfreak_Newsletter_2018061313&s_id=516e0a4d191b2a646da5e880
  4. How many students in the room currently have AirDrop enabled? Will they continue with that setting?
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a promotional campaign to use AirDrop to get attention, and sales.
  6. Debrief the exercise by having each team share its plan.

Source: Beltron, G. (12 June, 2018). ESPN freaked out iPhone users by trolling them with AirDrop during the NBA finals. Ad Week.

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